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Images from 2020 Supercross in St. Louis, MO
NEWS

Missouri Native Forkner Shows Off in the “Show-Me” State

Jan 122020

Equipped with a new approach to each round of Monster Energy Supercross, Austin Forkner made his anticipated return to the top step of the podium inside St. Louis’ The Dome at America’s Center. In front of a raucous hometown crowd, the Missouri native piloted his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki to the holeshot in the 250SX Class Main Event and enjoyed an impressive wire-to-wire victory at the second round of the 2020 season.

Coming off a season-ending knee injury last April, Forkner is still just weeks into his return to riding and is nowhere near the dominant level we saw a year ago. Nevertheless, he possessed plenty of speed, pace and confidence to take a convincing win and show his fellow competitors that he’s very much in the hunt for the West Region crown.

250SX Class

 

Since he turned pro, Forkner has shown numerous flashes of brilliance. There is no doubt that he holds a bright future in the sport, but his all out approach whenever he takes to the track has proven costly at times. Like many other young riders overflowing with talent, Forkner can’t resist going full tilt anytime he’s navigating the layout. He’s a racer, and his competitive nature doesn’t allow for anything less than 100 percent. However, when a rider constantly toes the line of control and chaos, at some point he’s going to push it too far, and for Forkner, it led to several frightening crashes in both qualifying and the races. The most notable incident of them all is what ultimately cost Forkner the title last season, and forced him to sit idle for months.

 

At the opening round in Anaheim, Forkner escaped injury after a scary tumble in the whoops during qualifying. After a strong-yet-frustrating opening Main Event, the Monster rider made it a point to learn from his past miscues moving forward. In the past, Forkner wanted to be on top of the charts, no matter what the circumstance was. He’s hands down one of the fastest and most confident riders in the 250SX Class, so it was natural to have the mindset to “win” everything, not just the race. Under this new approach, he would place less emphasis on topping the time sheets in practice, instead focusing on getting as comfortable as possible on the bike in order to be that much better in the Heat Race and Main Event.

 

Armed with his new strategy, Forkner posted the third-fastest time in qualifying, but proceeded to dominate both his Heat Race and the Main Event. In a matter of just one weekend, Forkner was able to prove that the “less is more” mantra can pay big dividends when it matters most, and it shows the maturity he possesses at this point in his career. While we still consider Forkner a “young gun,” he has three seasons of 250SX Class competition under his belt and is nearing the end of his career in the small displacement.  He’s more of a veteran than an up and comer, and with that experience comes a natural maturity, simply looking at things from a more practical standpoint.

 

Watching the championship slip away due to his own mistake surely had a big impact on Forkner, and he’s come into 2020 looking to take care of some unfinished business. With a dominant race win under his belt, Forkner is poised to build some momentum in his chase of a first ever professional title.

 

While Forkner was able to enjoy the spoils of victory, Justin Cooper took care of business as well aboard his Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing machine. The opening round winner and championship leader showed no signs of pressure in carrying the red plate for the first time. He didn’t get a great start in the Main Event, but he methodically worked his way forward and was able to fight his way into second, giving him 1-2 finishes to start the season.

 

With an undefeated start to the season, and back-to-back 1-2 finishes in the first two Main Events of 2020, Monster Energy will look to keep the ball rolling at Anaheim 2.

 

Western Regional 250SX Class Results

1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

2. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing

3. Brandon Hartranft, KTM

12. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing

DNS Cameron McAdoo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

 

Western Regional 250SX Class Standings

1. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing - 49

2. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 44

3. Brandon Hartranft, KTM - 37

4. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing - 34

14. Cameron McAdoo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 17

450SX Class

 

Although Monster Energy riders missed out on back-to-back wins to start the season in the 450SX Class, there may not be anyone in the premier division riding with more confidence than Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo at the moment.

 

The veteran and the rookie finished 1-2 in Anaheim, trading the lead multiple times in their battle for the win, and in St. Louis they were once again up front in the thick of the podium fight. For Barcia, a strong and assertive runner-up finish, combined with his win at the opening round, has given him a career-best start in the 450SX Class. He easily maintained his hold of the red plate, and actually extended his point lead in the process. The Yamaha rider made a point to talk about the amount of work he put in this offseason, and he’s been very vocal about how comfortable he feels aboard the bike. Based on what we’ve seen through the first two weeks, Barcia’s confidence in his 2020 program has been more than justified.

 

For Cianciarulo, St. Louis provided a valuable lesson. While his seventh-place finish is by no means an indicator of how well he rode all day and night inside The Dome, the rookie got a first-hand taste of how competitive and difficult the 450SX Class can be. While he topped the charts in qualifying and easily took the win in his Heat Race, Cianciarulo had a tangle with an old foe, Zach Osborne, early in the Main Event, which forced him to come from behind. While Cianciarulo successfully battled his way back to fourth and had a shot at the podium, a tipover on the final lap caused him to lose three spots. The lone mistake of the rookie’s entire day in St. Louis proved to be the most costly, and he’ll be better for it heading into Anaheim 2.

 

While he’s yet to make his presence felt so far in 2020, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac took a step forward from a frustrating opening round by finishing just off the podium in fourth. While the world-beating speed we’ve come to expect from Tomac has yet to be seen through the first two weekends, it’s only a matter of time before the #3 is back up front and on top of the box.

 

450SX Class Results

1. Ken Roczen, Honda

2. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing

3. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna

4. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

7. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy Kawasaki

10. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing

 

450SX Class Standings

1. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing - 49

2. Ken Roczen, Honda - 43

3. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 39

5. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 35

11. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing - 24

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